All good things must come to an end — even this.
After raising more than $600,000 and after helping more than 200 families with their daunting medical expenses, this year’s day-after-Thanksgiving fundraising concert by the Booker Mini Band will be the last.
The 10th annual event will begin at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 28 in Taylor Arena at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. Opening act Brad Boice performs at 8:45 p.m. and then Booker Mini takes the stage for what’s being billed as “One Last Time Around.”
“All of us have been in the business long enough to know when it’s over. It’s time. It’s more of a feel than knowledge,” said band member Steve “Booker” Books.
“We’ve been going to the well for 10 years. And, most of the time, it’s the same people that show up,” added Lee “Mini” Powell. “You can only go there for so long. It’s been a really cool ride.”
The benefit started 10 years ago as a fundraiser for the Booker Mini Foundation, which helps local families in financial jeopardy from medical expenses incurred in treating life-threatening illnesses.
The concerts were well-received and well-attended, moving over the years from the International Event Center to the larger Mayo Civic Center. In past year, as many as 3,500 people have attended, not only to hear great local music, but to participate in fundraising silent auctions and raffles.
A host of local music acts have donated their time and talents to the cause over the years, including Incognito, Annie Mack, Lost Faculties, the Chubs, Chester Bay and Thomas and the Shakes.
Among past beneficiaries of the concerts is Kraig King, who was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma on Jan. 9. He received a one-time gift of $2,500 from the Booker Mini Foundation.
“It got us through the first three months of this ordeal, the hardest and most emotional part,” King said. “It helped while we waited for the disability checks to arrive.”
King’s wife, Joan, is a waitress at Michael’s Restaurant in Rochester and seemed to always be scheduled to work the night of the benefit. This year, she plans to attend.
“I’m sad that’s ending, because they have helped so many people, but I also understand you can only do so much,” she said.
Though this is the last after-Thanksgiving show, the Booker Mini Foundation is likely to continue.
“There is such a demand for what we’re doing as far as helping folks,” Books said. “Certain individuals have said, ‘You brought it this far, why don’t you keep it going?'”
The group has already chosen the nine families who will receive help from the upcoming show’s proceeds, said band member Mark Walsh. And there is every hope that, for those families, the band will play to a full room.
“Every year we have a monetary goal. this year our goal is to pack the Civic Center, just fill it,” Walsh said.
Concert admission is free, but most attendees give a free-will donation. There are auction items and raffles as well. Ninety percent of the money raised will help local families.
“The money raised goes directly to these families to help pay medical bills, the mortgage or just put food on the table while they deal with desperate medical situations,” Walsh said.
Booker Mini has also played a summer benefit at Boomer’s Lounge in Rochester. The band has not decided whether to play a summer fundraiser next year. The group will still play occasional live shows.
No one would have guessed the annual benefit concerts would have repeated as many years as they have.
“I’m shocked,” Books said.